Ontario Culture...

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...an oxymoron?

-- Paulineee (paulineee_@hotmail.com), March 11, 2001


In reference to Quebec's new culture minister, Diane Lemieux, and her comments about Ontario having no culture to speak of:

Even though I agree with the following remark found on another message board, "The minister's statements were far too ridiculous to actually dignify with indignation of any sort", I just can't seem to let this go. Rather than offer my own debate (I'm too tired, distracted and grumpy to put that much thought into developing a cohesive argument), please allow me to direct you to the above mentioned source (http://forums.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/AppServer? sid=e32ffnlD&mpage=0), as the prevailing sentiments reflect my own. Since these people have already gone to the trouble of formulating their ideas, I'll take the lazy way out and point you in the direction of the following entries:

1. "Ontario's culture" - Yves Capuano. 2. the more dramatic "cultural genocide - Ed Prevett, and, in particular, 3. "Culture" - Richard Webb.

There are other points to consider. First, this from the Globe:

In Ontario, her assessment was not welcomed. "It strikes me as silly," said English professor Russell Brown, who studies Canadian cultural themes at the University of Toronto. "I guess if I were going to start identifying Ontario culture, I might start with Al Purdy and look at his poetry and look at the expression of intense Loyalist sentiment and attachment to the land." Peter Hinchcliffe, a professor of Canadian literature at the University of Waterloo, said the two provinces have been shaped by different immigration patterns. "There's certainly an Ontario culture, but it has different roots and takes different forms than the culture of Quebec. For example, it's not as homogeneous, but that's neither a virtue nor a vice; it's a product of our history." Peter Reich, a U of T linguistics professor, said"If you define culture as the lively arts or television and movies and that sort of thing, I would say that we're a major powerhouse in North America. . . . To the extent that English Canada has a culture at all, I think we dominate it, for better or worse."

From my friend, Daniel:
"She (Pauline) is right that Quebec's culture is much more vibrant than the rest of Canada's, but I don't give a (expletive deleted) about French culture. Having a culture doesn't make you a better or kinder people (ask Floridians what they think of Quebecers who vacation there.) As for her comments about "Stratford" - why do I care if that's not endemically Canadian? I don't care where art comes from as long as it's wonderful."

Finally, the number 1 definition of "culture" is: the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.

I fail to see where either Ontario or The U.S. is lacking in any of the above.

-- Stephanie (stevie@idsi.net), March 11, 2001.

I started to write a response but it grew into an entry.. you can find it here.

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), March 11, 2001.

I would like to offer a public apology to Daniel for unwittingly dragging him into this discussion. Had I known that he would come under such a hostile attack, I never would have done so. Like me, Daniel was reacting to what we both perceived as an attitude of superiority, which, ironically, is largely what Pauline blasted Daniel for displaying. She takes offense over his comment about not caring about French culture, saying it's a question not of taste, but attitude, and asks why this should be an acceptable manner in which to present that opinion. Frankly, I think Pauline is sometimes guilty of taking a similar posture (I suppose we ALL are, in one way or another), particularly in reference to her feelings about Ontario. (See archival entry about the big snow storm if you can find it - I tried, but failed.) Daniel's remark about "better and kinder" people was meant to indicate that all the culture in the world doesn't make you better than others, or less likely to be criticized. Everyone is looked down upon by someone else. I consider it most unfortunate that we feel the need to flex our superiority muscles so often, especially in an effort to make someone else appear inferior.

Pauline says the comment about Ontario having no culture of its own was a matter-of-fact one, which was given all sorts of negative connotations by the English. Well, it sure sounded negative to me, especially the flippant way in which it was addressed in her journal. She also claims "nobody said ‘better', but that certainly seemed to be the implication, at least that was MY impression. Why make an issue of all this if it is not meant to reflect disparagingly on Ontario?

In her closing argument, Pauline says she prefers "to live among the French Canadians... than among the anal-retentive, US-wannabe Torontonians. (apparently, it is okay for her to hurl insults, but not Daniel). Having traveled to various parts of Canada, I will admit to being struck by the charm of Quebec City, but, I also couldn't help but notice tourists aren't treated in a very friendly manner. "It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Personally, I would much prefer to reside in Ontario, where I felt a lot more welcome.

Finally, I would like to address Pauline's comment about Ontario being cultured, as opposed to having a culture of its own. She said: "Even if it's the best culture in the world, it's a foreign culture. That is the point." Perhaps someone can explain to me how Quebec's French culture is not a "foreign" culture.

-- Stephanie (stevie@idsi.net), March 12, 2001.

I agree, I think putting you inbetween Daniel and me isn't a good idea. If he chooses, he's welcome to post here himself.

The "offense" I took with Daniel's statement was the manner in which he expressed himself. I don't care much for the French Canadian culture either - it's sort of foreign to me even though I've lived here all my life. The discussion, however, hadn't reached the "expletive" stage up to that point. That's what I meant by the difference between taste (on which we agree) and attitude (which I found offensive).

As for the snowstorm, I don't think there was a specific entry on it, just random comments, one of which was in the moose entry that's linked in the current entry. I think Daniel might (ought to?) agree that it's no more than the normal long-standing urban rivalry, more fun than anything else. Any disdain I have for Ontario really stems from the greater disdain that people there have for Quebec, which is out of proportion, IMO.

As for the original intent, yes it was to stir things up! More in the sense of rational debate, though.

And you're right about how tourists are treated in Quebec (not always but way too often.) It's unfortunate. But my own personal experience has really been mostly positive. I live in a predominantly French suburb, speak my fractured French when I'm out, get along with the French parents in Rob's baseball league, etc. The actual experience is miles removed from what the politicians would have you believe.

And as for Quebec's culture, it is no more "foreign" than the culture of other French-speaking areas: Louisiana, Haiti, VietNam, the French African countries. In fact, Quebec French is so dissimilar to Parisian French that I (who was taught Parisian in school) have trouble understanding it. French citizens (France) bemoan our French, considering it inferior. The accent and colloquialisms are different.. it's really a dialect.

The "culture" too is home-grown. The books, music, plays, all come from Quebecois and from the experience of living here - quite different from life in France. For example, there's the sugaring-off rituals.. lively parties with music, dancing, and distinctive dishes. The literature reflects the cold and isolation we have here.

There's also a huge Catholic influence.. so much so that the worst swear words even today have to do with the Church, not with sex as in the rest of western society. You can't go far here without hearing "tabernacle!" (sort of an "aw shit!") Really. There are a bunch of other colourful ones too. The patron saint of Quebec is St. Jean Baptiste (John the Baptist) and his day (June 24) is arguably the biggest holiday they have here, bar none.

There's poutine, and sugar pie, and.. well I guess you get the idea. I found a general resource if anyone's interested, at about.com.

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), March 12, 2001.

I checked out the above-mentioned link, but was immediately put off when I saw that the site refers to "French Culture", not "Quebec culture". However, Pauline's response to my question was sufficient, so I really don't need to look further than that for answers.

Here's another thought - a society's culture is a reflection of its inhabitants. Therefore, does it not stand to reason that a "melting pot" society would be even richer in culture than a more homogeneous one?

-- Stephanie (stevie@idsi.net), March 12, 2001.

Chuckling as I read these postings... gee, it sure was nice to sit back and watch two Canadian provinces battling each other than to have to put up with yet another diatribe about how the United States is destroying everything that is good and true in the world. (Actually, it's not the United States doing anything bad; it's really all just the conspiracy run by us white middle-aged males.)

I've just returned from a weekend in South Carolina and exposure to Southern culture... lots of jokes about the proper name for the Civil War being the War of Northern Aggression. (Oh, okay, okay, I enjoyed myself down there, lots of very pleasant, very friendly people, very relaxed atmosphere.)

I've enjoyed both Toronto and Montreal (even though the only time I've been in Montreal was when the temperature was about one hundred and eighty-seven degrees below zero)

-- Jim (jimsjournal@yahoo.com), March 13, 2001.

Hey Jim.. 187 below zero, was that Fahrenheit or Celcius? (like it matters..)

Glad you enjoyed the show.. we endure it just about daily here. But for comic relief we can US-bash with the best of 'em.

At least you don't have to decide which language to use before you open your mouth down there...

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), March 14, 2001.

Hey Jim, seems to me that there some terms in the idiom of the States here that differ. Definitions of - Tote - Take - Carry and Press - Mash - Push sounded strange to my Colorado ears when I encountered them in the South. Top covering on a house Roooof or Ruf and the much bandied one Creeek or Crick. Main thing I think should be prime, we are all humans with the same basic survival traits and love of play . . . we should not, none of us, look down on anyone or group. IMHOP

-- Denver doug (ionoi@webtv.net), March 15, 2001.

... and that should be the last word on the subject! Thank you Doug :)

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), March 15, 2001.

Whoa, am I ever late into this discussion!

The thing that blows my mind the most about this whole thing is that the initial comment was made by a provincial government official. It doesn't matter to me which province the official is from, it's in ridiculously bad taste. Sounds like a cranky seven-year-old, not an image conscious politician.

IMO, of course.

Rick. -+--- rpali@alienshore.com http://www.alienshore.com/seeking/

-- Rick Pali (rpali@alienshore.com), March 19, 2001.

Hey Rick it's Quebec.. ALL our politicians sound like cranky 7-year olds! (Welcome to the forum!)

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), March 20, 2001.

Ontario culture... okay, how about this: http://www.nakednews.com/

When I first heard about it I thought people were talking about the Moscow tv station that had taken to having newsreaders and weather people removing a few items of clothing, but this isn't a Russian website, it's Canadian (in the Toronto area)

And they really are naked. Usually the anchor person starts fully dressed and slowly undresses while talking about the new until she is fully naked, no blurred pixels and the rest of the cast is usually already fully nude. Right now the cast is all female but they are considering auditioning some male newsreaders.

Interestingly enough, the women are neither twenty year old anorexic supermodels nor silicon-enhanced 38DDs; they are real women. They happen to be attractive women, but they are real women, mostly 30- ish. One of them is quite obviously pregnant.

The Naked News -- the news program with nothing to hide.

And it's Canadian!

-- Jim (jimsjournal@yahoo.com), March 22, 2001.

Oops, meant that to be a Break tag not a Bold tag so I'd better put in a end-Bold tag.

Also, had meant to make that url a clickable address:


Some days computers just don't do what you mean for them to do.

-- Jim (jimsjournal@yahoo.com), March 22, 2001.

I had to see it to believe it... Incredible!

-- Stephanie (stevie@idis.net), March 22, 2001.


Still, I can't help thinking it's typically Canadian.. tries to be too many things at once and succeeds fully at none. It looks like it can't decide whether it's porn, a social statement, or what!

If the Americans did it it'd be raunchier but with blurred pixels.. if it was done in Quebec it'd be VERY raunchy and VERY X-rated!

Now tell us, Jim, how did you find it? :)

-- Pauline (p_brock@hotmail.com), March 22, 2001.

I read about it in the Providence Journal... but when I went to access it I found that the url was already in the list of addresses on the location bar so someone in my house had already been there, although they may simply have read the same article... (In other words, I wasn't surfing the web using google.com to find the word "naked")

I must say, Victoria Sinclair is a very attractive woman, although I also think that Holly (the one who is pregnant) is rather cute...

-- Jim (jimsjournal@yahoo.com), March 26, 2001.

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